SC asked to nullify issuances, policies on mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court (SC) was asked on Thursday, May 12, to stop the enforcement of all government issuances and policies which impose mandatory vaccinations against Covid-19.

In a petition, the SC was told that the issuances and policies violate the provisions of the Constitution on due process, equal protection of the law, security and privacy, religious freedom, and freedom of movement and travel.

The petitioners, led by Nicanor Jesus P. Perlas III, are members of various civic group like the Covid Call to Humanity (CCH), Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDCPh), Legal Lightworkers for Life and Liberty (L4), and Juan Dakila (JD) Movement.

Among them were a Covic-19 vaccine-injured employee, doctors, scientists, religious leaders, government and private sector employees, and public-school teachers.

They were assisted by lawyers Pacifico A. Agabin, Kristin Barbra M. Bautista Bello, John Evan C. Miguel, and Aaron C. Soguilon.

The petitioners pleaded the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or writ of preliminary injunction that would stop immediately the implementation of the policies and issuances on mandatory vaccination.

Named respondents in the petition were the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, Interior and Local Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, Education Secretary Leonor M. Briones, and Makati City represented by Mayor Mar-Len Abigail Binay.

Specifically, the petitioners pointed to IATF Resolution 148-B which should be declared null and void. The Nov. 11, 2021 resolution mandated the full vaccination of on-site workers.

IATF Resolution 148-B mandates that on-site workers who remain unvaccinated should not be terminated but must take RT-PCR tests regularly at their own expense. The resolution also bars unvaccinated individuals from boarding and riding public transportation subject to certain exceptions.

The other IATF issuances sought to be nullified in the petition were ATF Resolution No. 148-G Nov. 17, 2021; IATF Resolution No. 149 dated Nov. 18, 2021; IATF Resolution No. 150 dated Nov. 25, 2021; IATF Resolution No. 155 dated Dec. 31, 2021; IATF Resolution No. 163 dated Feb. 24, 2022; IATF Resolution No. 164 dated March 11, 2022;

IATF Guidelines on the Nationwide Implementation of Alert Level System for COVID-19 Response as of Feb.27, 2022; DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2022-002 dated Jan. 18, 2022; DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2022-008 dated Jan. 31, 2022; DOTr Department Order No. 2022-001 dated Jan. 11, 2022; LTFRB Memorandum Circular No. 2022-001 dated Jan. 12, 2022;

MMDA Resolution No. 22-01, series of 2022; DepED-DOH Joint Memorandum Circular No. 001, series of 2022 issued on April 6, 2022; DOH Department Memorandum No. 2022-0013; DOH Department Circular No. 2022-0131; Makati City Ordinance No. 2022-005 enacted on Jan. 12, 2022.

At the same time, the petitioners asked the SC to ensure that persons who submit themselves for vaccinations do so “freely, voluntarily, and intelligently,” after a written acknowledgment that they have been advised of all the possible side effects of the vaccines on their health

They pointed out that the respondents in the petition should be compelled to make public all the officially recognized side effects of the vaccines and all adverse events reported after vaccination, and to ensure that such information is widely disseminated through various forms of media.

They said the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens “are not suspended just because there is an existing public health emergency.”

“All citizens are still entitled to attend religious gatherings, political rallies, and organizational activities, to the extent allowed by the prevailing Alert Level classification and subject to the observance of reasonable health protocols,” they stressed.

“By allowing the unvaccinated only to procure essential goods and services outside their residences, the assailed regulations and ordinances fail to account for these other freedoms, which are essential to the enjoyment of a life lived with dignity,” they added.

An almost similar petition had earlier been filed before the SC by the Passengers and Riders Organization (Pasahero) Party-List which challenged the “No Vaccination, No Ride” policy. The petition is still pending resolution by the SC.